Ord's Kangaroo Rat
In Alberta, Ord's Kangaroo Rats
appear to be limited by the availability of their preferred habitat,
sparsely-vegetated sandhills. This habitat is available mainly in the sand hill areas of southeastern Alberta. Over time, eroding sand slowly stabilizes due to
the encroachment of vegetation. This encroachment occurs naturally in response to climate change, but has historically been counterbalanced by natural disturbance from fires and Bison that made sandy areas prone to
erosion. With the suppression of fire and change in grazing
habits since human settlement, there has been little natural disturbance of prairie communities.
Furthermore, erosion is discouraged along roadways and agricultural land. For example, hay bales are often placed over eroding sand so as to rapidly increase
deep-rooting vegetative cover. Collectively, these practices have probably accelerated vegetation encroachment in recent years, and decreased the amount of natural habitat available to Kangaroo Rats.
When preferred habitat is unavailable, Kangaroo Rats occupy alternative,
sparsely-vegetated habitats such as roads, trails, fireguards, fallow cropland, and
intensely-grazed pastures. The consequences of occupying alternative habitats have not
yet been determined. However, some of the implications may include increased mortality and susceptibility to parasitism.
Reprinted from Alberta Wildlife Status Report No. 4 (1997), with permission
from Alberta Sustainable